Investigating how computations in the brain give rise to behavior and consciousness
Investigating how computations in the brain give rise to behavior and consciousness

The MindScope program at the Allen Institute seeks to understand the transformations, sometimes called computations, in coding and decoding that lead from photons to behavior and conscious experience by observing, perturbing and modeling the physical transformations of signals in the cortical-thalamic visual system within a few perception-action cycles. We generate data and discoveries through the Allen Brain Observatory, a standardized and high-throughput experimental platform that captures neurons and circuits in action in the visual regions of the mouse brain, to glean principles of how the mammalian brain processes information, responds to the external world, and drives behavior. 

MindScope Program News


From 300,000 mouse neurons, scientists hope to glean how the brain drives behavior

August 23, 2022

New public dataset captures billions of electrical spikes from brains of animals trained to identify ‘oddball’ photos 


Lab Notes | Building a consciousness meter with Christof Koch

May 26, 2022

Neuroscientist Christof Koch is leading an effort to build a consciousness meter that could have real-world applications to determine whether coma patients are in a true vegetative state. 


New research to understand how the brain handles optical illusions and makes predictions

May 9, 2022

3 new projects launch on OpenScope, a shared neuroscience observatory

Research Highlights

See research highlights from the Allen Institute for Brain Science.

A shared observatory for neuroscience

OpenScope opens the Allen Brain Observatory pipeline to the entire community, enabling theoretical, computational and experimental scientists to tests hypothesis on brain function in a process analogous to astronomical observatories. Once a year, OpenScope will accept experimental proposals from external scientists, execute the experiment and make the data available for analysis and subsequent publications by the external team.

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Eavesdropping on the brain’s internal dialogue

Created in collaboration with the Allen Institute, imec, HHMI Janelia Research Campus and University College London, Neuropixels are thin silicon probes that can record from neurons in many parts of the brain simultaneously. Our researchers are now using these probes in the Allen Brain Observatory to listen to more than a thousand neurons’ conversations at once. Neuropixels make it possible to read out electrical activity from as many as nine visual areas in the mouse brain as the animals view images and movies. Ultimately, the researchers aim to map in detail how different parts of the brain work together to process visual information and use it to guide actions. 



Observing the brain in action

The Allen Brain Observatory takes a large-scale, standardized approach to studying neurons as they fire in a living animal. Researchers on the Observatory team are now able to watch — and ultimately to understand — how the mouse brain works in real time. Using mice that are genetically engineered so that different types of neurons glow when active, the research team measures the activity of individual cells in the mouse visual system as the animals observe different images and movies. Their ultimate goal? To understand the rules of computation that are used by brain cells and circuits to process visual information.

Allen Brain Observatory